On May 14, Congressman Jack Kingston voted for a war funding bill that focused on our troops and their ongoing mission in Iraq and Afghanistan when it came before the House. A month later and after a weekend of backroom negotiations, troop funding was slashed in favor of a bailout of foreign countries, unnecessary non-emergency funding for the Capitol Police, wildfires, a new financial crisis board as well as a new billion-dollar program for cars.
"When a train leaves the station in Washington, there are those who just can't help themselves from throwing on cargo," Congressman Kingston said. "This bill, though, is supposed to be about our troops, emergencies and unanticipated situations. It's no surprise we've had a financial crisis and it's no surprise that the domestic auto industry is in trouble. If these were really priorities, they'd be debated separately but now they're just being drug through on the backs of our soldiers."
The spending bill voted on today contained $79.9 billion in defense-related spending, a full $4.6 billion less than the original House-passed version which Congressman Kingston supported. More than $26 billion is directed toward non-defense programs including both domestic and international priorities of the Democratic-controlled Congress - about two times the original version. All said, the bill is $9.1 billion more than the House-passed version and $14.6 billion more than the Senate-passed version.
One of the most controversial measures in the bill is an allocation for the International Monetary Fund which is set to receive $5 billion to go toward leveraging up to $108 billion in bailouts of foreign economies. As much as $1.8 billion could go to the government of Iran.
"This bill sends $30 billion more toward bailing out other countries than our troops," Congressman Kingston said. "Don't worry, though, it'll go toward our great U.N. allies' like Syria, Venezuela and Iran who sponsor the terrorists we're trying to fight."
Other controversial provisions in the bill include $1 billion for a new program known as "Cash for Clunkers" which would provide a voucher for an car owner to trade in their vehicle for one that is more fuel efficient. While Congressman Kingston believes that's a proposal which deserves a debate, he believes it should be done so separately.
The President's request for $80 million to close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was rejected in the final package - a move Congressman Kingston supports. Language was also stripped, however, that would have made it harder for the Administration to accomplish the task by bypassing Congress.
Congressman Kingston voted against the bill which passed by a vote of 226-202. It must now be taken up in the Senate before being sent to the President for signature.